BERKELEY (CBS SF) — The Berkeley City Council will hold a special meeting on Thursday evening to consider options for dealing with the increasing number of people who live in RVs, including prohibiting them from doing so for extended periods of time.
A group called Berkeley Friends on Wheels, which describes itself as a vehicular community of families, University of California at Berkeley students, gig economy workers, veterans, elderly and disabled people, says it will oppose the stricter options being considered.
The group alleges in a release that the stricter options “will vote poor people out of the city.”
One option the Council will consider would clarify an existing code that prohibits RVs and all vehicular residents to park for longer than 72 hours without an RV permit and create a permit program that would only allow vehicular residents to park on Berkeley streets for 14 days a year.
The option also calls for the enforcement of city ordinances that make it unlawful to live in “any house car or camper for human habitation.”
The second option calls for revising municipal codes that ban overnight parking between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. and enforce the prohibition of sleeping in oversized vehicles.
In addition, it would call for the city to hire a staff member to do outreach for RVs and allocate $3,000 each for 100 vehicle dwellers for mechanical repairs and registration fees.
Berkeley Friends on Wheels says that would cover only about half of the city’s vehicular population.
“Neither option considers the needs and voices of our community,” the group said.
In its release, the group says, “Berkeley Friends on Wheels strongly believes that a safe haven should be allocated for our community on wheels in order for our neighbors to thrive and find stability.”
It says, “While order must be established on the streets, vehicular residents are asking that our opinion counts when city policy is being drafted. Solving the problem does not mean the city should ban our existence from Berkeley.”
City staff members said they are proposing the two options because the city “is experiencing an increasing number of RVs parking for long periods of time, impacting public safety, health and the parking needs for Berkeley residents and businesses.”
Last July, the city of Berkeley evicted about 35 homeless people who were living in RVs and vans in the parking lot of the recently closed HS Lordships restaurant in the Berkeley Marina.
City spokesman Matthai Chakko said at the time that the city responded to the encampment at 199 Seawall Drive after families who use the nearby Adventure Playground and the management of the nearby Double Tree Hotel complained about assaults, drug needles and defecation in the area surrounding the encampment.
City staff said in their report for the meeting on Thursday that the city has received more than 1,500 complaints from businesses and residents about people who live in RVs, including the loss of parking and the illegal dumping of trash, debris and human waste onto city streets, sidewalks and waterways.
The council is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. at the Berkeley Unified School District board room at 1231 Addison St.
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